tv Meet the Press NBC November 18, 2012 8:00am-9:00am PST
a new start with congress over the debt. embattled former cia director david petraeus testifies privately on capitol hill, insisting his resignation had nothing to do with the botched response to the attack in libya. all of this as we are still getting a daily dose of unpleasant details about general petraeus's affair with paula broadwell, and the role that florida socialite jill kelly played in the drama. and the clash in benghazi heats up as charges that the u.n. secretary misled the country about the attack on "meet the press" and other programs. >> our current assessment is that what happened in benghazi was in fact initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in cairo. >> now sparking a war of words with the president, senators are threatening to block her potential nomination as secretary of state. >> the reason i don't trust her is because i think she knew better, and if she didn't know better, she shouldn't be the voice of america.
>> senator mccain and senator graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me. >> we'll talk to senator lindsey graham exclusively this morning. plus, the key figures trying to get to the bottom of benghazi and the petraeus affair. chair of the senate intelligence committee senator dianne feinstein of california. and chair of the house intelligence committee, congressman mike rogers of michigan. then after the election, will washington get anything done? talks start on how to avoid the fiscal cliff, as mitt romney draws fire from fellow republicans by accusing the president of doling out, quote, gifts to minority groups in exchange for their vote. what's the fallout and the future of the gop? with us, tea-party backed congressman raul labrador, tom friedman, former white house chief of staff for bill clinton john podesta, republican strategist mike murphy, and nbc news chief foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell.
announcer: from nbc news in washington, the world's longest-running television program, this is "meet the press" with david gregory. good sunday morning. with the president's national security team under fire over the petraeus resignation and the benghazi attacks, the president arrived on the world stage this morning for a summit in east asia, and he's got new worries on his mind about the prospect of a war in the middle east as israel and palestinian militants get closer to the brink this weekend. israel expanding its air assault against hamas and palestinian militants continuing to fire rockets into civilian areas of southern israel. that's where i want to begin this morning. i've got nbc's chief foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell and "new york times" columnist tom friedman. who better to have to discuss this. tom, as the two sides get closer to the brink, based on your experience and reporting, where is this going? >> let's just go around the horn, david, quickly. i think hamas is trying to use this moment to both break out of the blockade and try to end targeted killing of its leaders from israel, and trying to take
advantage of the new arab spring balance of power, the muslim brotherhood in egypt, to leverage that possibility. israel. israel has been watching for the last six to nine months hamas bringing in longer and longer range missiles from iran. i think they saw this as an opportunity of necessity to take those out, missiles that can now hit tel aviv and jerusalem. egypt. this is a real problem for egypt. you have a new government there that needs money from the united states. they don't want to be caught in a struggle between israel and the palestinians. for iran, this is a godsend. it takes world attention off their nuclear program and puts pressure on all the more moderate forces in the arab world, puts them at the head. and lastly, syria, couldn't be a better day for bashar al assad. takes all the attention officer ya. no one is looking at the murderous campaign of assad against his own people. >> andrea mitchell, the diplomacy for president obama about to start a second term with all of the problems in the middle east. he's in bangkok this morning. he talked about his support for israel.
>> there's no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders. so we are fully supportive of israel's right to defend itself from missiles landing on people's homes. and workplaces and potentially killing civilians. and we will continue to support israel's right to defend itself. >> so let's talk about how the president is working this right now, andrea. >> well, working this by trying to persuade the president of egypt to please pull back and pressure hamas for a cease-fire. that is where the action is. the arab spring is what changed all of this. all of the elements that tom just addressed were, you know, completely transformed by the fact that you have morsi and not mubarak. so you don't have a reliable dictator or leader in egypt whom the united states can do military to military and diplomat relations with.
you have an islamist muslim brotherhood, and that is where the concern is for israel, the concern that these longer-range rockets have been going through, being smuggled in through the tunnels. and the real critical issue here now is where -- who -- where is the end game? how do they get out of this? the problem has partly been america's problem. the benign neglect of the last couple of years, letting the israeli-palestinian issue moulder, not boosting the more moderate palestinian group, has enabled hamas to broker these relationship and now they have morsi and others in play with them. >> as i talk to israeli officials, they will not rule out a ground invasion that could happen anytime. andrea and tom, we'll hear from you later in the program as we get into our roundtable. thank you both very much. i want to turn now to the house and senate intelligence chairs. from michigan mike rogers and democratic senator from california dianne feinstein. welcome to both of you. >> thank you.
>> i want to stay in the middle east and talk about what has been a central preoccupation for you this week, and that is the aftermath of this terror attack on our consulate in benghazi in libya, of course. and as we're on the air this morning, the central question is, who knew what when, and how was this described to the american people? did the government say what it was, when it first happened? and you had former cia director david petraeus testifying in private at the end of the week on friday. this is how the ap describes his testimony, and one of the contradictions it appears to bring up. david petraeus told lawmakers during private hearings on friday, that he believed all along the deadly attack on the u.s. consulate in libya was a terrorist strike, even though that wasn't how the obama administration initially described it publicly. representative peter king of new york said petraeus had briefed
the house intelligence committee on september 14, and he does not recall petraeus being so positive at the time that it was a terrorist attack. he thought all along that he made it clear there was terrorist involvement, king said. that was not my recollection. so senator feinstien, did petraeus contradict himself or has he contradicted the white house's version of events? >> we have a transcript of that meeting on that day. and petraeus very clearly said that it was a terrorist attack. and outlined who he thought might be involved in it. so any -- >> this is right after the attack? >> that's the day after the attack. i think there's no question about it. what has concerned me about this is really the politicization of a public statement that was put out by the entire intelligence committee, which susan rice on the 16th, who was asked to go before the people and use that statement, did. i have read every one of the five interviews she did that day. she was within the context of that statement.
and for this, she has been pillaried for two months. i don't understand it. it has to stop. if it continues, it's going to set up once again a partisan divide in these -- the house and the senate, which congressman rogers and i have tried to overcome and have overcome with some success with respect to the intelligence committees. >> congressman rogers, to my understanding, talking to government officials, is that what susan rice said on "meet the press" five days after the attack and other programs as well, was very similar to what then director petraeus said privately on september 14, that there appeared to be a terrorist element to it but that it appeared first to be spontaneous but it became a terrorist attack, and that that was his belief. so were they not speaking basically in the same way? >> well, first of all, why are we doing the investigation? i think that's important. so our job as chairman of the intelligence committee is make
sure we did not have an intelligence failure. was there an intelligence failure on that day? that's the first question we have to get right. and i'll tell you, i am with a high degree of confidence today will tell you that there was not an intelligence failure. the intelligence community had it right, and had it right early. what happened was it worked its way up through the system of the so-called talking points, which everyone refers to, and then it went up to what's called a deputy's committee. what i found fascinating about this investigation, and, again, my role here in my mind is to say, was there an intelligence failure, and if so, how to prevent it from happening again. it went to the deputy's committee, populated by appointees from the administration. that's where the narrative changed. and so how that thing got back to senator rice, i think, is probably another question. >> ambassador rice. >> excuse me. and we do know that the intelligence community as they presented it was accurate. and it did include terrorism and included the notion of -- >> i'd like to respond to that.
>> okay. can i just do this? we are showing susan rice on there "meet the press." let me play the critical clip from that morning and have you make your point, senator. this is susan rice five days after the attack. >> can you say definitively that the attacks on our consulate in libya that killed ambassador stevens and others there, security personnel, that was spontaneous? was it a planned attack? was there a terrorist element to it? >> let me tell you the best information we have at the present. first of all, there's an fbi investigation ongoing and that will give us the definitive word on what transpired. putting together the best information we have today, the current assessment is that what happened in benghazi was, in fact, initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hoyers before in cairo. a copycat attack which were prompted of course by the video. >> senator, you said that two days before that, director petraeus said it was terrorism.
why didn't ambassador rice call it terrorism two days later? >> because she could speak publicly only on unclassified speaking points. i have some concern with those speaking points. but let me correct one thing. >> right. but what are the concerns and why speak at all? in other words, why was there a reference to it being a terrorist attack taken out of the public talking points? >> that is something that we're going to find out. but it was. that's the point. now, with the allegation that the white house changed those talking points, that is false. there is only one thing that was changed, and i've checked into this. i believe it to be absolute fact. and that was the word "consulate" was changed to mission. that's the only change that anyone in the white house made, and i have checked this out. >> and just as a counterpoint here, and again, we get along well. we may disagree on this issue. but we get along well on many, many issues.
but what was said and as i conclude the course of that investigation was that at some point, that those so-called talking points, in other words, the narrative of how we would call this event, went up to what's called a deputy's meeting. when asked, there was no one in the professional intelligence community could tell us who changed what. so that -- there goes the disconnect. so the intelligence community says this was a terrorist act. >> why didn't we call it what it was? that's what i don't get. >> that's a great question. >> why not just call it what it was? who are we protecting? >> david, i happen to think that's absolutely correct. i don't know who we were protecting. i do know that the answer given to us is we didn't want to name a group until we had some certainty. well, where this went awry is anybody that brings weapons and mortars and rpgs and breaks into an asset of the united states is a terrorist in my view. i mean, that's pretty clear.
also the other point was, once the video was put together, it was clear there was no demonstration. this should have been known much earlier. it also raises the concern of talking points by committee. and i have some concern about that. >> but was there a cover-up? do you believe that the president or anybody serving the president deliberately misled the american people about the true nature of this attack for political reasons? >> no, no. >> absolutely not, senator? >> that's correct. >> i don't -- >> do you believe anyone misled the american people deliberately for political reasons? >> well, this is what i know. i know the narrative was wrong and the intelligence was right. now, getting between there and there i think you have to be careful about making those accusations. i think you should have to prove it. as an old fbi agent, you should prove it first. >> but this is important. you're saying petraeus says, look, i said it was terrorism all along. susan rice told the american people we thought it was spontaneous. there's a disconnect. >> even more important than
that, the narrative as it went from the cia to other intelligence agencies was correct. it was an act of terrorism. we knew that. the difference is what happened when it went outside of the intelligence community for, as the senator called it, you know, a committee to look at this thing and make the determination on what the narrative was. the narrative was wrong. and why that's important, this isn't just about parsing words and who was right. there was some policy decisions made based on the narrative that was not consistent with the intelligence that we had. that's my concern. and we need to say, hey, we need to figure out how that happened, and let's make sure that doesn't happen again. >> did people die because we didn't protect them adequately? is that the bottom line here? >> david, we gave the direction yesterday that this whole process is going to be checked out. we are going to find out who made changes in the original statement. until we do, i really think it's unwarranted to make accusations. >> can i ask this? did our people die in that consulate because of the government's failure adequately
protect them? be that at the state department, the cia. >> there are two issues here. one is the physical security of the consulate itself. based on all of the intelligence that we knew, all of that information, said clearly there was a high degree of threat. i believe that there was a catastrophic failure in recognizing that threat posture clearly on that date. that's a separate issue than the intelligence issue. we had clearly the intelligence was right. clearly, others had made decisions based on that threat, including other nations, had pulled out of benghazi. we knew all of that was going on through the investigation. but the state department for whatever reason didn't make the adjustments. i argue, and i think the senator would argue, would have been prudent to protect the lives. that's one issue. but the second issue is the narrative created following it did not match the intelligence. and did the policy decisions that happened afterward cause problems for the united states?
i argue it has, and we have agreed together that we'll get to the bottom of how that happened. >> if i might say, i think we are vulnerable. intelligence should be used in assessing the safety of our 285 diplomatic missions all over the world. and there should have some precise effect. as of mid august, we know that ambassador stevens was very unhappy with the level of security. and we've seen that testimony. we also know that some improvements were made to the annex. i believe that the security aspect of this is one of the biggest things. i went through hundreds of threat warnings. threat warning after threat warning after threat warning over the last six months. and also the prior events that had taken place. there is no question that
benghazi was one of the most difficult places. it should have had much better security, and no one should believe that these militias, who were unarmed, stationed in front of security are going do anything other than run when they see people approaching them with guns. >> i want to return to david petraeus, who had to resign because of his affair with paula broadwell. senator, initially you thought it was too bad that he had to resign, that you wished the president hadn't accepted it. i know he testified before you, apologized for the affair, but did so privately. i was last with director petraeus when he was commanding our forces in afghanistan back in 2010. and i remember spending a lot of time with him there, and at that time he was so relished the opportunity to be back in the theater of war, commanding our forces. he seemed to be improving his relationship with the obama administration, where that had been strained. can you give me some personal sense of how he appeared before
you on the substantive matters but also the personal matters at hand? >> yes, i can. for me, personally, this is a heartbreak. i respect david petraeus. i respect his 37 years of service to our country. i respect his command ability. i respect this great intellect that he has where he can speak literally on dozens of subjects. you know, training manuals, counter insurgency, various military tactics. and he is one of our brightest and our best. there is no counter to that. here's a problem that we have. our tours are long. they are multiple. whether you're a private or a four star, coming back into civilian society is difficult. here's a man, and you see "time" magazine and the medals he has. you see the stars. one day, he takes all of that off. he's in a plain blue suit like this. he looks no different from you or you or you. he looks a bit different from us.
having said that, there's no entourage. there's no driver. he gives an order at the cia. there's discussion. there's flak. people don't like this. and then he goes home to wash dishes. it is a major adjustment. i think we need to look at this transitioning of people. i think we need to look at our tours. now this is not an excuse. >> right. you're getting closer to excusing men for behaving badly. >> i'm not excusing him. as you look at it, it became more complicated. >> i'd like to weigh in on this as well. >> i think he did the right thing in resigning chlgt and i think the president did the right thing in accepting the resignation. >> is his government service over in your judgment? >> i don't know. remember, this is still ongoing. how this started is very important. because you hear a lot of people thinking this was the fbi investigating a sexual undisclosed affair. not the case. this started by a cyber threat
that certainly had elements that would rise to the level of, well, blackmail. now, a senior government official, not mr. petraeus, also weighed in at some point in this investigation -- before the investigation was open, and said i think we have a security threat issue here that needs to be investigated. now, that's how this case got started. and why that's important is because if you are a brand-new cia officer, and i have all the respect for david petraeus, and i hope his family goes through a healing process and he'll move on with his life. but if you're a brand-new case officer at the cia, and have an undisclosed relationship, and an undisclosed way of communicating outside of the bounds, you get fired. why? because it's a counterintelligence threat. to someone who has very sensitive and classified information. that's how it got started. and it probably should have been brought forward earlier as a national security threat, both
to congress and other players. >> you think the president should have been told before election day? >> i'm not sure the president was not told before the election day. the attorney general said that the state department -- excuse me -- the department of justice did not notify the president. but we don't know if the attorney general did. >> you think the president knew? that's news. that the president knew before election day. >> i didn't say that. i said i don't know. >> there is no evidence of that. >> the attorney general knew months before this. there was no formal notice to both congress or the intelligence community. >> right. >> i find it -- we just have to ask the question. i hope he'll come out and talk to us about it. >> i spoke to the attorney general. >> we could resolve this very quickly with a conversation in the intelligence spaces if he did have that conversation with the president. >> final comment, senator? >> well, i spoke to the attorney general. he explained the process, that the fbi carried out, and that there's a reason for that. and the reason for not disclosing it is so that there
is no manipulation, that there's an ability to move ahead without any political weighing in on any side. >> all right. more to come on this. thank you both very much. >> thank you. up next, more on the petraeus affair and the political battle over the obama administration's handling of the attack on benghazi. we'll get reaction here from the man leading the charge against the administration and against ambassador susan rice, senator lindsey graham. later, fallout from the campaign after mitt romney's surprising comments this week and the future of the republican party. our roundtable weighs in on that. tom friedman and andrea mitchell will rejoin the conversation. plus, republican congressman raul labrador, former white house chief of staff for bill clinton john podesta, and gop strategist mike murphy, ahead here on "meet the press." "meet the press" is brought to you by chevron. we may have more in common than you think. you can learn more at chevron.com.you can learn more you can learn more at chevron.com.you we're sittinge on a bunch of shale gas. there's natural gas under my town. it's a game changer.
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administration and u.n. ambassador susan rice on the issue of benghazi. the senior senator from south carolina, republican lindsey graham. senator, let's get right into it. you just heard the chairs of the intelligence committees on benghazi. bottom line point, did director petraeus call this terrorism from the get go? they say yes. they don't understand why the administration didn't call it the same two days later. how do you react? >> well, i think one of the reasons that susan rice told the story she did, if the truth came out a few weeks before the election, that our consulate in benghazi, libya, had been overrun by an al qaeda-sponsored militia, that destroys the thinking that al qaeda is dead, bin laden is dead. she said i want to remind the american people this president promised to go after bin laden, refocus on al qaeda. he got bin laden.
al qaeda has been dismantled. and the truth of the matter nothing could have been further from the truth, and the story she told reinforced a political narrative helpful to the president. but disconnected from reality. >> let's be clear about what you're saying. you also heard senator feinstien say unequivocally that the notion that there was a cover-up or an attempt to mislead for political reasons is absolutely wrong. she says it's character assassination, the way you're criticizing her. you believe the president of the united states sent his ambassador to the u.n. out to mislead the american people so he could get some sort of political gain before the election? that's the cover-up you're c accusing them of? >> i'm saying that the ambassador that had nothing to do with benghazi -- why would you choose someone who had nothing to do with benghazi to tell us about benghazi? that's kind of odd. the president said, why pick on her? she didn't know anything about benghazi. she was the most politically compliant person they could find. i don't know what she knew, but i know the story she told was misleading. i don't know why it was
misleading. but let me put this in context. would this white house mislead the american people about national security events? i think they might, simply because when the bin laden raid occurred, they leaked every detail about the raid. we have a pakistani doctor in custody because he told about the role he played. the underwear bomber case where we stopped a plot in yemen came out in "the new york times." they told us about how this administration stopped the role of cyber attacks on iranian nuclear program. in three weeks we heard a lot of detailed about classified information to make this president look good. so if they would leak classified information to make him look good, would they withhold information to prevent him from looking bad? i think you could say look at that. and secondly, our democratic colleagues, in the valerie plame case and scooter libby, all insisted the bush administration could not investigate themselves. when we alleged that the leaks at the highest level of
government that compromised classified information to help the president look strong politically, they would not agree to special counsel. you have two u.s. attorneys under eric colder investigating the highest levels of this government for crimes. now you have a situation where we are being -- the american people are being misled, and details that could hurt them politically, are not coming forth until after the election. i want to get to the bottom of it. >> why did the office of the director of national intelligence on september 28 issue a statement in which effectively bolstering the very remarks that susan rice made on this program and others, that there was a spontaneous element to this and there was contradictory information? was she not working off the same talking points that the intelligence community was working off of and that were changed, or were not said publicly, as senator feinstien said, for some reason to cover up or to not tip their hand that they were investigating these
terror groups? >> isn't it kind of odd, if the reason is to take al qaeda out of the equation, to make sure that al qaeda doesn't know that we are onto them, that the story they told helps the president enormously three weeks before the election? because i don't buy that for one bit. that makes no sense to me. al qaeda knew we knew about them. we had people in germany that survived the attack that could be interviewed. we had drones overhead. i think it's very odd that the storyline they chose omitted al qaeda, which would help the president enormously, and i don't buy it. and i don't buy the intel community did a great job. i like mike rogers and dianne feinstein. but to say the intelligence committee -- community did a good job, what about the months before this attack? what about the rise of al qaeda in benghazi? what about the british ambassador closing the consulate in benghazi because it was too dangerous for the british? what about the red cross leaving? what about all of the warnings
coming out of benghazi? did the cia tell the president that benghazi is falling into the hands of al qaeda? and i blame the president more than anybody else. susan rice is a bit player here. was he informed of the june attack on our consulate where they blew a hole -- where 40 people could go through? was he aware of the august 15 cable where stevens was saying we can't withstand a coordinated al qaeda attack? there are 10 militia groups all over benghazi. i blame the president for making this a death trap. i blame the president for not having assets available to help these people for eight hours. we need a select committee not only to look at intelligence failure, but how could the department of defense not help these people for over eight hours? and why did the department of state for months ignore pleas for help? we need to get this under one roof. >> can susan rice be confirmed of secretary of state if nominated by the approximate president? >> i don't know. i'm deferential to the president's picks. i voted for kagan and sotomayor.
he had a very high bar for confirmation. i have a very low bar. i'm going to listen to what susan rice has to say, put her entire record in context. but i'm not going to give her a plus for passing on a narrative that was misleading to the american people, and whether she knew it was misleading or not. >> you won't filibuster her appointment? >> i'm going to wait to see what the state department has to say, but i'm very disappointed in susan rice, somebody who knew nothing about benghazi, telling a story that was disconnected from reality that did make the president look good at a time when quite frankly the narrative should have been challenged, not reinforced, that al qaeda was dismantled. that's what they wanted us to believe, that al qaeda was dismantled, and benghazi was exhibit a that that storyline was not working and was untrue. >> let me turn to the issue of david petraeus and his resignation, because of his affair. he's been central to this benghazi testimony. but the cover of
gets to something else, how his fall exposes a system failure at the highest levels of national security. you just heard chairman rogers say that he thinks the president knew before election day about this affair with paula broadwell. do you believe that? >> i can see how he would not know, to be honest with you. i'm just not here to pick on the president. i look forward to working with him on immigration and solving the fiscal cliff problems. but i am going to get to the bottom of benghazi and hold him accountable for a national security breakdown. but when it comes to the affair itself, it seems that the oddest story in the world that an fbi agent on his own decided to get the fbi to look in emails that were threatening. if that's going to be the standard of federal investigations, they better increase the fbi by 100%. that whole thing is bizarre to me. i'm not interested in it unless there's a national security component. and actually i could see how the president would not know that. >> before you go, senator, i
know it's head spinning. there's so much to talk about, including politics and the future of your party. but all of these things are very much on the menu right now. mitt romney got a lot of attention this week by talking about gifts he thinks the president gave to minorities to get their vote, to fundraisers. this is a portion of what he said, and i want to get your reaction to it. >> what the president's campaign did was focus on certain members of his base coalition. give them extraordinary financial gifts from the government. and then work very aggressively to turn them out to vote. and that strategy worked. >> what's your reaction to that? >> we're in a big hole. we're not getting out of it by comments like that. when you're in a hole, stop digging. he keeps digging. the hispanic community, 71%, voted for president obama. and they're all disappointed in president obama. there's high unemployment among the hispanic community. president obama did not embrace
comprehensive immigration reform like he promised. but they voted for him because he is a lesser of two evils. self deportation being pushed by mitt romney hurt our chances. we're in a death spiral with hispanic voters because of rhetoric around immigration. and candidate romney and the primary dug the hole deeper. you know, people can be on public assistance and scheme the system. that's real. and these programs are teetering on bankruptcy. but most people are on public assistance don't have a character flaw. they just have a tough life. i want to create more jobs, and the focus should be on how to create more jobs, not demonize those who find themselves in hard times. our party can adjust. conservatism is an asset. but rhetoric like this keeps digging a hole for the republican party. and it we don't stop digging, we're never going to get out of it. >> senator, thank you very much. >> egypt. watch what you do and how you do it. you're teetering with the congress on having your aid cut
off if you keep inciting violence between the israelis and the palestinians. >> we've covered it all. senator, thank you for that. i appreciate it very much. yeah. other than that, have a nice day. >> i can't think of anything else to say. i want to turn to our roundtable, andrea mitchell, tom friedman back with us. also republican congressman raul labrador, former white house chief of staff for bill clinton john podesta, and our friend gop strategist mike murphy. welcome to everybody. yes, i want to get to as much as we can, including some of the republican fallout a little bit later. andrea, bottom line, this furious debate and new facts we've gotten here on benghazi and susan rice this morning. >> mike rogers, the republican chair, threw a hand grenade into the middle of this table when he suggested that the president of the united states might have had prior knowledge before the election of what was going on with david petraeus, that eric holder was aware of it, the attorney general, and that it's not credible that eric holder would not have told the president. this will raise a lot of questions. holder will be called to attention on the hill.
the other thing is the disconnect between what the senators believe, which was that there was not an intelligence failure but there was certainly a failure then to follow up. did the state department, why did the state department not increase security, not ask for more security, after the intelligence community made it very clear. and was there politicization. dianne feinstein says no. all of this is now going to be examined. and now you have also got an i.g. investigation into whether petraeus misused personal assets or resources, official assets, to further his relationship. and if you look at the way he lived with all of the entourage that he still maintained as cia director, i don't know how they close that down. that is a very -- fraught with difficulty. >> isn't it interesting, just on the petraeus thing, there's something so intensely personal about it in terms of people's reactions. mike murphy, should he have been investigated? should we have resigned? listen to senator dianne feinstein talk about, hey, you know, instead of really coming
down hard on him, we have to think about how hard it is to come off of command in a war zone back to a civilian job, and that readjustment is tough and could have led him to stray. she's not making an excuse, but people really have an intense personal reaction to this. >> it's a big complicated thing when you have a great patriot like that that served the country so well. but he either broke the rules at the cia or if it becomes true there was an affair when he was commanding the forces he really broke the rules there. he denies it. i tend to believe him. i think he did the right thing. but whether or not we have to investigate for a year the details of who paid for the coffee at starbucks, shut it down. he took the honorable bullet. and repair the intelligence service. >> we have lived through this with president clinton and impeachment and monica lewinsky. and there is a view out there of, you know, a, why do we need to know all of this stuff about emails between the kelly sisters and general allen and some of these other details? >> well, if aaron sorkin wrote it, you wouldn't believe the
story. >> no. >> but i think mike's right. i think that, you know, we know what we know. there are legitimate issues around benghazi. >> yeah. >> i think this really ought to get shut down. with respect to what andrea said about mike rogers tossing this hand grenade on the table, i would note he did it with zero evidence. in 1993, back to the clinton era, andrea will remember this, i recommended strict protocols between the justice department and the white house, which were implemented. i'm sure they have changed to some extent. but there is a reason why the justice department doesn't talk to the white house about ongoing active investigations. i think that president obama ought to direct the attorney general to obviously review those and report to him about whether they could be improved. but there are very good reasons why the justice department doesn't talk to the white house about investigations. >> congressman, i haven't heard from you so far this morning. weigh in on what you've heard so far. >> i think it's interesting to see the justice department may not have talked to the president, but they had a duty to talk to the intelligence
committees. and they didn't. if you remember last week, i think dianne feinstein was very upset because nobody talked to her. and i think dianne feinstein is actually going to be the key to finding out what's happening here, because she's not happy. she is trying to defend the administration right now, but she's not happy that as a committee chairman nobody talked to her about this investigation. i want to get back to ambassador rice for a second, though. lindsey graham is absolutely right. she was misleading on your show. and she was misleading on every single show that she appeared. on your show, she said, we have decimated al qaeda. if you remember that, right after that clip that you showed, she made it -- she emphasized that we have decimated al qaeda. she emphasized not just once, but two or three times on your show that this was a response to a hateful and offensive video. she wanted the narrative to be something -- a different than what the intelligence community was telling her. >> again, i think that will not
stand without being pushed -- rebutted, particularly this issue of if she was working off talking points where the terror element was taken out. why was that the case? and the intelligence chairs do not agree with the assessment that somehow she was misleading. and i think that's important for people watching this this morning, that that debate will continue. and of course it's adamantly denied by the president and others that she would willfully mislead or what senator graham said, wanted to cover up or make a political point. tom, if you can, sort of catch all of these things together. this sort of human reaction to petraeus, the impact on the national security team, at a time when this is now -- this benghazi question is coming up in such a furious way. >> i want to go back first to petraeus. you know, i think petraeus exhibited a singular act of leadership when he summoned the country for the surge that saved iraq from really going into a death spiral. it would have been a great disaster for american foreign policy. at the same time, though, that surge in iraq coincided with a
sunni muslim surge of their own, driven entirely for their own reasons to break with al qaeda, side with the united states. it was the combination of our surge and the sunni uprising that made that success. we completely overread that. this is my belief. and petraeus turned that into a counterterrorism strategy that he said i did in iraq, now i can do it in afghanistan. that same thing has been a co complete failure in afghanistan, because there was no afghan surge. we keep training afghans to fight, ok? every time i hear that, you know, i'm thinking, who in the world has to train afghans to fight? anytime you're training afghans to fight, you're in the wrong place. so it worked in iraq. but it was a failure in afghanistan. and petraeus has to take responsibility for that. i believe. because he is partly responsible. he and the other military brass who rolled obama, basically, kept putting pressure on him to repeat in afghanistan what did not work in iraq. at the same time, libya.
and again, these two stories are tied together like this. we have completely overmilitarized our foreign policy. it's all about numbers of troops and generals. we forget there are diplomats in dangerous places, and sometimes, david, they get killed. it is a tragedy. to me, libya is not a scandal. it's a tragedy. it's a story of i think an incredibly courageous ambassador who wanted to work with the people on the ground and who produced something we have not seen since the arab uprising, which is masses of libyans on their own coming out to defend and praise our ambassador. again, precisely the kind of authentic surge that makes something possible. precisely what's missing in afghanistan. >> let me get a break in here. i want to come back and continue this, talk about the future of the replican party just as the president is trying to negotiate i don't spend money on gasoline. i am probably going to the gas station about once a month. last time i was at a gas station was about...i would say... two months ago.
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to minority gifts, this at a time when the party is trying to figure out where it's going. >> well, unfortunate comment. we need a rule that if you lose a presidential election, you get a pass for a week. it's like coming off a bender. there's a huge donor revolt going on. we have now lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential election. this is a crisis for the republican party, and we need a brutal discussion about it. we alienate young voters because of gay marriage. because of a policy problems. then we have the problem with hispanics, because we need a path to immigration. and we have lost our classification of middle class economics. we also have a lot of incompetency, we don't know how to win. this isn't about new software in the basement of the rnc or spanish language radio ads. it's a fundamental rethink that begins with policy because the country is changing. if we don't modernize conservatism, we'll be stinkts. >> some say that the public with
romney is he doesn't get it. it didn't take long for them to turn on him and say unfortunately this point of view is something he had during the campaign. >> romney is a good man. anybody who knows romney understands that he is a good man, that he would have been a good president. but he didn't know how to community the message of conservatism. and i agree with mike a little bit. but we need to be careful that we don't completely shift the party. we don't need two liberal parties in washington, d.c. we need one conservative party and one liberal party. i think the problem that romney had throughout the campaign is he couldn't talk about conservatism like conservatives talk. as i heard somebody say, he talked about conservatism as if it was a second language to him. we need to -- there are things about the conservative movement that actually we believe in small government, but we also believe in the individual. too many republicans here in washington, d.c., and they are actually defending big business. they are defending the rich. i didn't become a republican to defend the rich. and what we need to understand is that big business loves big government, because they get all the goodies from big government. they get less competition.
the more that government grows, the more that big business actually benefits from the tax code and from the regulations and from all those perks. >> john, you were at the white house meeting with the president this week, part of the progressive groups, stressing an agenda. what is your sense? is this a president ready as president bush said to spend his political capital and fight hard or does he see his mandate for compromise, and that means give up some? >> i think the quality of this election, the big loss of hispanics and asian voters, young voters, is a significant story. but the big story in this election was that obama won on the economy. people thought that romney was competent, but when -- in the exit polls when asked whether his economic policies favored the wealthy, 53% to 34% of people said yes. and i think that obama came into that meeting with a tremendous amount of confidence and energy, that he had put the question before the american people, 60%
of the american people said yes, as part of this fiscal cliff deal, taxes have to gun on to ue wealthy, and i think he'll get a good deal. >> i think they'll get a punting deal. but romney, he made an unfortunate comment, but the biggest problem he had was the republican primary. that is what is driving the brand to a disaster right now. and we have to get kind of a party view of america that is not right out of rush limbaugh's dream journal. we need to look at reality. >> what's the future of the tea party? you heard bill kristol saying we should give up some of this protection of tax cuts for wealthy americans. are you prepared to give up on that particular point to get a larger deal, including cutting government back significantly? >> i'm not if what it means is that we're going to raise taxes and we're not going to decrease any spending. if you remember that moment in the primary where they asked all 10 candidates -- >> the 10 to one, right. >> i would have answered the question differently.
i would have raised my hand and said, yes, i am willing to do it if the $10 in spending cuts happen today. because what happens in washington, d.c., is we do increase in taxes today. and we promise that there's going to be spending cuts 10 years from now. and it never happens. it didn't happen under reaga un reagan. it did happen under bush. >> there is agreement all around that boehner wants a deal. the speaker wants a deal, but he cannot sell a deal, even with the goodwill that he thinks he and the president have on that right now, unless there is real graham ruddman type, real requirements, that these things go in simultaneously. and that's what jim baker wrote about recently, who's had that experience, of fashioning exactly that kind of deal. >> it's important, though, that -- >> you have to cut spending in the future. >> you can raise taxes with one congress. but it takes five congresses to cut spending. >> it's important to keep the focus on growth.
not taxes, not spending cuts. you know, the goal here is to get our growth from, you know, one plus percent, up to three and four percent. if we don't get growth going, none of this will matter at all. it's really important as the president frames this that he frames it as growth, and therefore i need this tax increase for these people. this kind of spending cuts here. because it will leverage this kind of growth. >> but that's new spending. that's what the president talks about, john, to invest in infrastructure such to create that. >> and he needs a fiscal framework that's going to deal with the deficits that we have out in the out years, and he's put a plan on the table to manage that, to get the debt stabilized and then going down. but he has to have investments in infrastructure, investment in education. because that will power the economy going forward. he's put -- he is willing to do further cuts, particularly in health care and mandatory programs. but it has to come along with
tax rises on the top 2%. >> i have to get another break in. >> i have to get another break in. more we know why we're here. ♪ to connect our forces to what they need, when they need it. ♪ to help troops see danger, before it sees them. ♪ to answer the call of the brave and bring them safely home. [ female announcer ] around the globe, the people of boeing are working together, to support and protect all who serve. that's why we're here. ♪
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putting us in control of our energy future, now. thank you all very much for a great discussion. i wish we had a second hour today, but we will have to leave it there. for this week's press pass, i go behind the scenes of the my spielberg film "lincoln" with doris kearns, whose book was the inspiration for the movie. terrific insights into the film. that's all for today. i don't spend money on gasoline.
i am probably going to the gas station about once a month. last time i was at a gas station was about...i would say... two months ago. i very rarely put gas in my chevy volt. i go to the gas station such a small amount that i forget how to put gas in my car. [ male announcer ] and it's not just these owners giving the volt high praise. volt received the j.d. power and associates appeal award two years in a row. ♪ don't start by lifting 400 pounds, running a marathon your first day out or jumping on some crazy fad diet. start small, because small changes are easier to stick with than the big ones